Koran burning crisis: Haven’t we been here before?

The tragic headlines look all too familiar: Several reported killed in second day of Afghan protests over Koran burning. And … Continued

The tragic headlines look all too familiar: Several reported killed in second day of Afghan protests over Koran burning. And then Thursday, we learn that two American soldiers have been shot in retaliation and the Taliban is calling for revenge.



Afghan protesters shout anti-U.S. slogans during a protest at a mosque in the city of Herat February 23, 2012.

How could this kind of tragedy happen again?

American military leaders are apologizing, again. The world’s most moral and most advanced military has repeatedly shown an alarming lack of discipline—putting American troops and Afghans at risk with another provocative act. In 2005, it was revealed that military members were desecrating the Koran as part of their harsh interrogation tactics at Guantanamo. Earlier this year, we found out that a group of Marines videotaped themselves urinating on corpses of Taliban in Afghanistan. And this week, we learn of the “accidental incineration by U.S. military personnel of copies of the Islamic holy book.” Muslims revere the Koran more than anything else in this world; we do not even touch it without being ritually pure. Destroying the text is the ultimate act of disrespect to the faithful.

How could this sort of callousness happen, again?

If the U.S. military took these incidents seriously they would have had a policy in place to prevent just such an accident, including training on Islamic culture to teach incoming military personnel how to behave decently and respectfully towards people of other faiths. Since acts like the Koran burning, even when unintended, have huge implications for Muslim-American relations around the world, this training should be of the upmost priority.

General John Allen, the commander in charge, offered a quick apology and promised an inquiry. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta too has apologized. I sincerely hope he delivers on his promise. If he can quickly offer a correction and commitment to change, then perhaps the next time there is a similar crisis, the apology will look more sincere.

Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Associate Professor at the University of Delaware and a Fellow of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. His website is www.ijtihad.org.

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  • gjtitus

    Barf alert. Muslims burn their Korans when they bomb each others mosques. And 0bama’s apology tells these Islamofascists that they can push us around with their constant Muslim rage. The First Apologist in the White House is certainly no leader and doesn’t even know what the word means any more than he can properly pronounce ”corpsmen.” We should have stated that the Qurans had been defiled by terrorists and we were doing what Muslims themselves do with defiled copies. Other than that, they can all go somewhere more hellish than the countries they have created for themselves. The worst thing you can do involving Muslims, history teaches us, is to give into their demands.

  • WmarkW

    Yeah, we’ve been there before that the Religion of Peace turns into mob violence over cartoons, novels, films and conversions.

    I’m not treating your holy book with any more respect than it deserves as literature, no matter how crazed a lunatic that turns some people.

  • gjtitus

    Muslims protest the US usage of drones to take out terrorists and the burning of a few defiled Qurans, but rarely do they come out and protest the terrorists and the things that motivate them. (Because those verses are in the Quran.)

  • DaudMauddib

    We have been here to many times. Whatever the Taliban does it isn’t enough to bring the average citizen into the streets but whatever the US does or is even perceived to do is enough to cause death and riots. This is a no win situation. The Taliban behead a journalist or woman and the locals shrug, we burn an already desecrated book and the locals protest, kill, or cause to be killed a number of people, we then apologize and try to move on. Let’s just finish helping them set up their temporary government as we promised; get out and watch them fight over which tribe or klan has the right to subjugate all the other tribes or clans. I am truly sorry for the innocents who are manipulated by their imams and for the soldiers who lost their lives over the destruction of a book. In the end it comes to the same thing. Get it done and get out.

  • plattitudes

    They should have a policy in place
    They should have trainings
    This should be of the upmost [sic] priority. (Utmost was the word you were looking for).

    This type of thinking is flawed. There ARE policies in place. There ARE trainings, and they ARE a priority. However, as history shows us, you can have the best of policies and trainings, and find a perfect balance between training the soldiers in respectful behavior and doing their job, and you will still have a few who decide to ignore the policies and training they’ve received. Behaviors like those cited will still occur. You can impose harsh punishments to attempt to deter, but then the acts will become more anonymous. You cannot change people’s core behavior with policy.

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